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Previous Accomplishments


A nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization established in the fall of 2002, Health Careers Futures' mission is to align the supply of and demand for healthcare workers in Southwestern Pennsylvania by improving attraction, recruitment and retention of quality healthcare workers; and instituting research of relevant health workforce issues.

Here are research projects and programs on attraction and recruitment, training, and retention completed by HCF and project partners.


Carrick Health Academy Study: Carrick High School has successfully promoted health careers for over eight years through its Health Technology Academy. Carrick’s Health Technology Academy staff have, where possible, maintained records, of the post-secondary activities of its graduates. This combination of promotion of career literacy and post graduate tracking placed Carrick in a position to define the success of offering career literacy programs.

Health Careers Futures (HCF) and the Pittsburgh Public Schools Conducted a study to determine how well healthcare technical programs prepare students for health careers. We investigated the career pathways of graduates and observed the effects of strong high school career literacy on career choices and educational mobility.

Incumbent Workers: Health Careers Futures took a survey of healthcare workers and students in high-demand imaging, respiratory therapy, and medical laboratory fields to understand the career pathways taken by regional health workers. Results show that most workers in the targeted fields fit a traditional career entry scenario: they entered at an early age, and had little or no prior healthcare work experience. Most students had some prior healthcare work experience. Almost all students and incumbent workers reported altruistic reasons and ample job opportunities as reasons for choosing a health profession. Students are more influenced than incumbent workers by the media and Internet when making career decisions. Two-thirds of incumbent workers and almost three-quarters of students reported that they received advice from a friend or relative on entering a healthcare profession.

Results have led to collaboration with the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT). Extending aspects of HCF's pathways study relevant to radiologic sciences to a national audience, ASRT instituted a career pathways survey of their members: imaging (radiography) professionals. HCF continues to collaborate with ASRT in an advisory role.

See Health Career Pathways: Results from a Survey of Pittsburgh Area Health Professionals and Students for more details.

Magnet Summit Follow-up: A year after the 2003 Magnet Summit, a summit on the designation that signal an achievement of excellence in nurse administration, nurse autonomy, nurse professional development, and improved patient care outcomes assigned by the American Nursing Credentialing Center of the American Nursing Association, HCF initiated a study to determine the effect of the summit on Magnet development in the region. The results from the study show that regional hospitals are seeking Magnet Status. Thirteen regional hospitals have begun the application process (several to submit applications shortly). Primary reasons for pursuing Magnet Status include: improved patient care, support from the Magnet network, staff attraction and retention, and match between hospital and magnet principles. Other benefits of Magnet – fiscal savings, marketing advantage, institution of magnet culture – are important as well. Facilities not seeking Magnet status cite lack of resources, organizational change and union/management challenges as their primary inhibitors.

When asked how HCF could aid progress towards Magnet Status, healthcare providers requested help with the research requirements of the Magnet Process. To address this need, HCF is holding a second summit to help demystify the research requirement of the Magnet Status.

See Magnet Hospital Development in the Pittsburgh Region – a Status Update for more details.

Imaging: HCF and its partners convened a taskforce to investigate the feasibility and potential impact of a media campaign to attract new healthcare workers for Southwestern Pennsylvania. The taskforce focused the investigation on the region’s imaging sector because of its documented need for future workers. The findings indicated that a mass recruitment initiative did not fit Southwestern Pennsylvania’s purposes, at least in relation to the imaging sector, as hospitals and training providers currently conduct successful recruitment activities to meet their needs and have limited availability of clinical internships.

Learn more >> Health Workforce Snapshot: Imaging, view for more details.

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Primary and Secondary School Students: A new in-service project in the Shaler School District will expose more than 500 teachers to the variety of available healthcare careers—as well as those careers’ skill and training requirements, available training programs, and opportunities for career advancement. Hands-on exhibits of health technology and curricula that build health concepts into math, science, and other general instruction will also be shared. Health Careers Futures and its community partners are currently designing the project.

Health Workers beyond the Region: Six new health workers from New York City have moved to Pittsburgh to begin new health careers here, thanks to a recruitment effort completed in partnership with the Faith–Based Network.

Graduate Students in the Health Sciences: The Health Sciences Fellowship Program began four years ago with the goal of exposing students to Pittsburgh's healthcare network and retaining qualified leaders in health care. Last summer, HCF staff modeled the fellowship after Perfecting Patient Care (PPC) System developed and used by the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative (PRHI). After a successful summer, the entire fellowship has been refined to focus on patient safety and PPC principles, and has been renamed the JHF Patient Safety Fellowship.

Pennsylvania Health Careers Week: This program aims to bring general awareness to regional, high-demand, health Careers. In 2004, the primary objective was to encourage consideration of the vast array of health careers by seventh and eighth graders. The premiere event, a web cast with WQED, was held on Nov 8 and was broadcast to 46 Pennsylvania schools, reaching more than 3,000 students. In Western Pennsylvania, 11 schools participated. Each site had a panel of professionals for interesting discussion after the broadcast as well as an evaluation component. Over 33 healthcare career events were held in communities in the region.

Langley High School: HCF has continued to lead health career presentations at the high school and work with the Health Academy instructor to increase students' health career awareness and interest; confidence; and graduates entering the health career field (in education or employment) locally. HCF has incorporated surveys and several projects while working with Langley’s Health Academy students.

Human Capital Policy Initiative (HCPI): HCF's partnership with HCPI has led to the presentation “Healthcare Careers in Southwest Pennsylvania: Right time, Right Place”. For this presentation, HCF provided healthcare workforce and labor market data relevant to high school students and educators. In addition, HCF staff has presented this material to regional high schools and civic organizations. HCF will continue to provide relevant information to assist HCPI in its data gathering and training of presenters. Visit HCPI for more details.

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Certified Nurse Assistants: Health Careers Futures directed Critical Jobs Training Grant monies to the Faith-Based Network of Long-Term Care Facilities, which trained 22 people to become certified nurse assistants.

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN): Health Careers Futures directed Critical Jobs Training Grant monies to the Community College of Allegheny County to train new LPNs.

Incumbent Workers: Assisted in the development and implementation of a U.S. DOL Incumbent Training Project that trained incumbent healthcare workers for higher paying healthcare jobs.

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Nurse Navigator

...encourage nurses to use point of care problem solving and measurement to deliver better patient care...

The Nurse Navigator Fellowship Program, sponsored by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was designed to retain nursing staff and improve the quality of patient care by transforming care delivery at the bedside. The fellowship aims to increase nurses’ capacity to collect and apply data at the point of patient care to improve patient outcomes. This should lead to increased nurse autonomy, satisfaction and retention. Each fellow’s host organization was awarded a one-time grant of $10,000 from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation to support fellowship participation.

The fellowship funds nurse-led projects and provides training in:

Achieving Magnet Status: Health Careers Futures (HCF) hosted a Magnet Summit, "Making Every Hospital a Workforce Magnet: Toward Attraction, Retention and Perfect Patient Care", to encourage healthcare facilities in Southwestern Pennsylvania to seek Magnet Status - a designation that signals achievement of excellence in nurse administration, autonomy, and professional development; and improved patient care outcomes.

One year after the summit, HCF initiated a study, Magnet Hospital Development in the Pittsburgh Region – a Status Update, to determine if the summit affected Magnet development in regional hospitals. The results of the study show that many regional hospitals are seeking magnet status. Hospitals site improved patient care, support from the Magnet network, staff attraction and retention, and the match between hospital and magnet principles as the primary reasons behind their pursuit of Magnet status.

When asked how HCF could aid their progress towards Magnet status, local hospitals requested help with research requirements in the certification process. To address this need, HCF held a second summit, "Nurse-Led Discovery: Advancing Patient Care in Daily Practice", to explore the building of research capacity within healthcare facilities.

Through these summits, participants become willing to use data in their daily practice to improve patient care and regional hospitals gain the necessary information to move toward attainment of Magnet status.

Hospital Nursing Staff: In 2003, HCF hosted a Magnet Summit “Making Every Hospital a Workforce Magnet: Toward Attraction, Retention and Perfect Patient Care” to encourage healthcare facilities in Southwestern Pennsylvania to seek Magnet Status, a designation that signal an achievement of excellence in nurse administration, nurse autonomy, nurse professional development, and improved patient care outcomes. This designation is assigned by the American Nursing Credentialing Center of the American Nursing Association.

Incumbent Worker Investment and Skills Enhancement

Through funding from the Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board and Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, Health Careers Futures implemented soft skills training modules based on Perfecting Patient CareSM principles in the Incumbent Worker Investment and Skills Enhancement (I-WISE) project. From 2005-2008, I-WISE trained over 4,500 frontline staff and managers in over 20 acute, long-term, mental health and community healthcare center settings. Training was provided at participating facilities and was delivered in a traditional classroom setting enhanced with specialized presentations, demonstration and experiential learning. At completion, participants received certificates of attendance, completion and, where applicable, continuing education credits. Program performance measures were based on attendance, worker and employer satisfaction surveys, and participants' retention rate compared to their counterparts.

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If you would like more information about Health Careers Futures' projects, please contact us.

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